Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden threw a football this morning for the first time since he sprained his right thumb Sept. 15 in a 14-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
It represented a significant step for Weeden as he attempts to bounce back from the injury and reclaim his starting job. However, nothing has been guaranteed.
“Don't get hurt,” Weeden said today. “I don't know how else to put it. Injuries suck. They happen. Things happen for a reason, and we'll see how it plays out.”
Quarterback Brian Hoyer will start Sunday when the Browns (1-2) host the Cincinnati Bengals (2-1), and coach Rob Chudzinski has said he wants to keep his options open at the position even once Weeden is healthy.
“That's out of my control,” Weeden said when asked if he expects to get his starting job back. “My focus is making sure this thumb continues to make the steps that allow me to get back and be 100 percent. There's no reason to rush back and get to where I'm not completely healthy. So my main goal is getting healthy and whenever I am, then I'll sit down with Chud and we'll go from there.”
Weeden said Chudzinski hasn’t given him an explanation about his plans for position.
"We really haven't talked about it,” Weeden said. “My main focus, our main focus is me getting healthy, and once I get healthy, then we can cross that bridge when we get to it."
Hoyer capped an 11-play, 55-yard drive by throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Cameron with 51 seconds remaining, lifting the Browns to a 31-27 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Hoyer had wide receiver Josh Gordon at his disposal, and he caught a career-high 10 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Gordon served a two-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy to begin the regular season, so Weeden has yet to play with the team’s top receiver.
“Brian played well,” Weeden said. “He played really well. He took advantage of the opportunities that are in front of them. I think as a whole, offensively, I thought we played really good. I thought we played really well. Obviously, having Josh back, it was nice for Brian. That's a big weapon for him. But I thought he played real well.
“You're over there, and it's nice seeing Josh out there, first of all. It's nice having him as an offensive weapon. He's just a huge asset for this offense and the passing game. So yeah, it's nice being out there with [No.] 12. Other guys made plays. [Tight end] Jordan Cameron had a huge game. We played well offensively, did a lot of really good things.”
Weeden threw a baseball and a softball Thursday before tossing a football about 40 times today. He said he was able to grip the ball without pain.
“It felt great, felt good,” Weeden said. “Everything again has been above and beyond what I was hoping and it's getting there. It's definitely ahead of the curve.
“Dr. [Thomas] Graham, [trainer] Joe [Sheehan], all the training staff have done an unbelievable job,” Weeden said. “It was a legit injury and I healed faster than maybe they originally thought that I was.”
Weeden did not don the black brace today he had been using since he suffered the injury when he smacked his throwing hand against left guard John Greco’s helmet in the fourth quarter against the Ravens. Weeden, though, still wears the brace at night.
“I think the worst part is, you go out in public and people want to shake your hand,” Weeden said. “That's probably the most painful thing. So if I ever go see a movie or something, I definitely wear [the brace] there. But [I wear it] just really to keep from banging it. It's been in a brace for 10 days now, so it's healed, and I just want to keep progressing and getting better.”
Still, Weeden insisted he doesn’t know when he’ll be back. He hasn’t practiced the past two weeks.
"I'm still playing it day by day,” Weeden said. “[I’ll] test this thing and keep pushing it and whenever Chud and the staff is ready for me to go, I'll be ready to go."
Until then, Weeden won’t be comfortable on the sideline.
"It's terrible,” Weeden said. “I've never done it before. I felt like a duck out of water on the sidelines the other day. In pregame warmup, it was a unique feeling. I've never felt it, honestly, ever in any sport. It's frustrating. As a competitive guy and a guy that wants to be out there and even though the points and all those things we were getting into a rhythm offensively and go on the road, it sucks. It's not how you draw it up just because as a competitor, I want to be out there.”
Anticipating first start
Starting right outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard (sprained left knee) is listed as doubtful, so rookie Barkevious Mingo is expected to start in his place. It would be the first NFL start for Mingo, the sixth overall pick in this year’s draft who has tallied two sacks in two games after sitting out the regular-season opener with a bruised lung.
“With whatever I’m called to do, I just prepare for it, and I’ll be ready if I’m called to do it,” Mingo said. “It’s very exciting, with the possibility of getting my first start.
“When you got multiple guys that can play and can come in and play at the same level as the starters, that’s what you’re looking for as a team. That’s how you measure how good you are as a team by how good your backups are.”
Backup outside linebacker Paul Hazel said he expects to play, too.
“Coach said make sure to be ready,” Hazel said. “We've got to bite down and get into our playbooks, so we'll be ready.”
Billy Cundiff practiced and kicked today for the first time since suffering a strained right quadriceps during his fourth kickoff against the Vikings. Cundiff is listed as questionable for Sunday, but he’s optimistic about his status.
“I kicked enough just to kind of see how I feel and obviously we'll evaluate tomorrow,” Cundiff said.“I've been encouraged all week.”
Punter Spencer Lanning could fill in for Cundiff in a pinch. Lanning was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after punting, kicking an extra point following Cundiff’s injury and throwing an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Cameron on a fake field goal against the Vikings.
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help the Browns win a game,” Lanning said.